After amassing $32,000 in student loan debt to obtain a college degree, Ken Ilgunas found a very tight job market for an English / History major. But he didn't give up and certainly was not going to live with Student Loan debt.
I admire the guy for taking such an extreme course to further his education. I'm not sure I could have done it.. maybe with a small RV.
Here's his story from the Yahoo Finance web page.
Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In a Van to Escape Loan Debt
By the time Ken Ilgunas was wrapping up his last year of undergraduate studies at the University of Buffalo in 2005, he had no idea what kind of debt hole he'd dug himself into.
He had majored in the least marketable fields of study possible — English and History — and had zero job prospects after getting turned down for no fewer than 25 paid internships.
"That was a wake-up call," he told Business Insider. "I had this huge $32,000 student debt and at the time I was pushing carts at Home Depot, making $8 an hour. I was just getting kind of frantic."
Back then, student loans had yet to become the front page news they are today. Ilgunas could have simply deferred his loans or declared forbearance. He also could have asked his parents (who were more than willing to help) for a leg up. He could have thrown up his hands and gone to grad school until the job market bounced back.
Instead, he moved to Alaska and spent two years paying back every dime. And when he enrolled at Duke University for graduate school later, he lived out of his van to be sure he wouldn't have to take out loans again.
"I had no idea what I was getting into at the time. I didn't even know what interest was when I was 17," he said. "I just think that's awfully indicative of the incredibly poor personal finance education young people have at that time in their lives."
In his book, "Walden on Wheels: On The Open Road from Debt to Freedom," Ken chronicles his journey out of debt.
He was kind enough to share his story with us this week.
He knew exactly where to go for work. Ken had spent a couple months working at a remote Alaskan truck stop the summer before graduating. So he called up his old contacts and landed a job there as a local tour guide, cook, and basically whatever the locals needed.
"The day after I graduated, I was on a flight to Alaska and pretty much started work right away," he said. "As ignorant as I was, I did know that if I didn't deal with my loans, I'd have to deal with accumulated interest or delinquency or default. I wanted to pay it off as fast as humanly possible."
It was a brilliant move for a 20-something needing to pay down debt in a hurry. "It's 250 miles from the nearest store, room and board were included, and there wasn't any cell service," he said. "You can amaze yourself with how much you can save when you reduce your cost of living. Almost every dollar I made went toward my student loans."
Click here to read the rest of Ken's Story
I'll see you on campus...